Chinese fighter jets are apparently getting a mysterious new type of missile, a recent recruitment video of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force shows. The unidentified missile could be an advanced anti-radiation missile or a new long-range air-to-air missile, and either possibility could significantly increase the PLA's capabilities in destroying hostile early warning aircraft, analysts said on Wednesday.
The Air Force video showed a J-11BS fighter jet carrying a type of missile previously unknown to the general public, reported Weihutang, a military program affiliated with China Central Television. This report was reposted by the PLA Eastern Theater Command on Sina Weibo on Tuesday.
Weihutang said that this missile could be a type of new long-range air-to-air missile, which could be used in shooting down high-value targets like early warning aircraft and aerial tankers from afar, or it could be an advanced anti-radiation missile similar to the US' AGM-88G.
An anti-radiation missile is a type of weapon that homes in on hostile radio emission sources, usually radars.
Ordnance Industry Science Technology, a defense magazine based in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, said in a Tuesday report that since the screenshot of the video is not of sufficiently high quality, further details of the missile cannot be ascertained.
US media outlet thedrive.com said that it is more likely an anti-radiation missile.
Ordnance Industry Science Technology predicted that it could be an improved version of the CM-102, a Chinese made-for-export anti-radiation missile, and it may use the double-pulse solid rocket motor technology used on the PL-15, China's currently most advanced long-range air-to-air missile. This will give the new anti-radiation missile a much longer range, so the warplane can fire the missile far away from hostile advanced air defense missiles, including the SM-6 and S-400.
Wang Ya'nan, a military aviation expert and chief editor of Beijing-based Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times on Wednesday that anti-radiation missiles could play a significant role in destroying an enemy's valuable early warning aircraft, which emit heavy radiation.
Since early warning aircraft usually operate far from combat hot zones, possibly 300 kilometers away, a new anti-radiation missile would need to have a very long range, Wang said, noting that China should have the technologies needed to develop a type of advanced air-launched anti-radiation missile for fighter jets.
The new missile, if it is indeed an anti-radiation one, would be a perfect match for China's new electronic warfare fighter jet, rumored to be called the J-16D and derived from the J-16 fighter jet, Ordnance Industry Science Technology has reported.
The J-16D is expected to be equipped with a large amount of electronic warfare equipment and still be able to carry necessary air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons, in addition to a wide selection of electronic warfare pods, the magazine said, noting that the large payload space could make the J-16D even stronger than the US Navy's EA-18G.